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CHRISTMAS AND THOSE GOOD MEMORIES

From phone 1-5-14 038 BCHRISTMAS AND THOSE GOOD MEMORIES

Christmas memories, unforgotten tidbits of the past, stir to life when the leaves start changing. They fill our minds as the outside temperatures drop, and we sense winter approaching.

What type of memories swirl into your mind? Do memories drift around you like colorful falling leaves or do they batter you like vengeful winter storms?

Not everyone’s memories of Christmas are tender treasures—something to store away and breathe life into once a year. There is sorrow in this world. It doesn’t flee and hide on special holiday.

There was hardship and a long, tiresome journey connected to what we call the first Christmas—the birth of Jesus. Mary, the young teenager giving birth to God’s son, didn’t experience delivery in a sterile hospital room, with pain medicine and attentive nurses. She didn’t even have her own mother or a female relative nudging a cow out of the way and kneeling beside her in the piles of loose hay. They weren’t there to coach her through surging waves of contractions, to wipe her brow, or murmur words of encouragement.

The multitude of scents and the variety of natural sounds in that rugged stable—where Jesus was born—aren’t the touches of reality we long to have flowing through our homes on Christmas morning! But I’m sure Mary’s memories of that event held sweetness and joy, mixed with the discomforts and a thread of worry about the future. She held in her human hands—the Son of God. With the birth of Jesus came a gift of eternal life—to all who accept. Tender memories of the actual birth stayed with her the rest of her life, because she was His mother.

When we open our hearts to God’s amazing Gift, we want to share—because it’s a treasure to cherish. By sharing what we’ve received, we help others learn to think of Christmas as a time of good memories.

Thanks for stopping in and reading this blog.

~Karen Campbell Prough

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRY BONES AND HOPE

DRY BONES

Have you ever felt like you needed renewing?

We are human and many things in life can sap our strength, play with our emotions, or almost take the life out of us. Joy vanishes, we feel lifeless, and our will to climb out of an imagined pit dissappears.

We need comfort, but it is hard to tell others what we are experiencing. And we may actually believe we’ve “dried up”.

Everything enjoyable in life is gone. At times energy levels sink and we can’t figure out why.

We are like a pile of bones. There is nothing supporting us, holding us together, or covering us with warmth.

It’s not that we’ve sinned or turned away from God, but happiness is gone. What we thought wrapped us in comfort, like skin, has fled. We feel like we’ve been cast aside. We are falling apart like a skinless bones. How can we “pull it all back together”?

Or how do we help someone else who is going through such a time in their lives? Where do we find guidance for them?

Is there scripture to address these dead feelings?

One scripture comes to mind. Psalm 119:25 NIV says: “I am laid low in the dust, preserve my life according to your word.” In the NLT the same scripture says: “I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word.” It’s easy to see how discouraged the writer must have felt. He was lifeless, dried up like old bones, and abandoned in the dust by those around him.

But the scripture also says God will renew and lift us up, if we seek his help, read the Bible, and believe. But trust must figure in there. We must trust in God’s word–the scriptures–to pick us up and put the “bones back together”. God’s word applies His love as a covering. Psalm 94:19 NLT lets us know what God can do. “He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”

Have you ever felt like a pile of dry bones? Where did you find support, the help you needed with renewal?

“When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19 NLTTop of cliffs copy

The picture of the bones was taken in the Rocky Mountain National Park, where my daughter and I went hiking. The bones most likely belonged to an elk. Or perhaps a deer. I didn’t examine them real close.

∼Karen

 

© Karen Campbell Prough 2014

Feel free to repost this blog and photos, keeping the copyright notices intact. Thank you.

 


 

A Time of Renewal

 Renews my StrengthA Time of Renewal

Sometimes a time of renewal can’t come fast enough.

Do you ever feel that way?

I think we all go through periods in our lives when we are stretched to the limit. Inner peace fades away and crumbles when we need it the most. And during those times, even the smallest problem grows into a monster. The shadow of that “monster” can dim the good things in our life and leave us stumbling around in confusion. We fear we have no strength to go on.

Rugged mountain trails and dangerous cliffs can be an example of rough times in our lives—events when we need strength. But even before the renewing of our spirit, the right guide can make all the difference in how we view problems. A guide brings assurance, comfort, a sense of relief, and a huge gift of renewal.

Our God knows there has to be periods of reflection and renewal in life, that’s why He gave us a day of rest.

With renewal, what we once viewed as insurmountable or too rugged to conquer can turn into a journey toward untold wonders. A steep hill becomes something to overcome, with pride and confidence, as the prize at the completion. The towering mountains of life lose their ability to terrify us. We can stand and appreciate winds of peace.

As we pray, God renews our strength in the face of the enemy. He guides us where we should go to gain the most benefit from our circumstances. He knows the way. We don’t. And by following in His step and releasing our desire to plunge through the underbrush on own trail, we bring honor to Him. We feel renewed–able to continue the journey of life and be a witness about our Guide.

Thank you for pausing to read this blog. Please, scroll down and leave a comment.

Karen

No rocks.2

 

© Karen Campbell Prough 2014

Feel free to repost this blog and photos, keeping the copyright notices intact. Thank you.

LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP

Down to sleep 2Many things in life cause weariness, drain our productivity, or create sadness. But the death of a friend or relative can do all three. Even though most of us hate to admit it, spending time at the hospital with a loved one, staying up all night with them, and returning home to chores and phone calls can strip us of inner reserves. The ability to stand strong wavers.

During a tragic sickness in the family, schedules change, the phone demands to be answered, and life doesn’t give us a break. Some things go on as usual but without our input. We may have to step back and let others do things we usually take care of. But sometimes sadness and loneliness destroy the possiblity that we’ll ever A Flower power 1walk away unscathed.

Where do we find strength to go on?

Strength comes from the one who created us.

God blended the mind, body, and soul into a vessel that can cling to God’s will, his infinite love, and his knowledge. By talking to family and friends, we may try to explain how we feel. We wait for their human responses and long for a large patch to be put on our hearts, but God is the only one who has all the answers.

He gave us the ability to experience a full range of emotions. And each emotion has a perfect fit inside us, but when the balance is tipped, dumped into a huge pile, and shoved at us–nothing seems right. Only God can reach inside and allow us to be what he created, a unique human being. He never told us to hold in sorrow and take on the attributes of a cold statue.

1 flower power 4God lets us to be human, to experience the broad ranges of emotions and feelings he created. Yes, we feel weariness, sorrow, agony, and even joy. And along with the huge display of devastating emotions, God layered hope, joy, and peace–to conquer our pain.

Don’t rush to discover peace when bad things happen. Peace is  waiting there, but find it by following the unique needs you have as an individual.

If you want to cry, don’t let someone convince you to hide your pain. If you need to run to the woods and scream questions at God, do it. He will listen. If pouring out your heart in prayer is your desire, then take that route. There is no time limit or rule, when it comes to releasing sorrow. As long as you are willing to let him, God will nudge you into a path of peace. And much like a quiet wave pushes unforseen treasures up to a beautiful beach, God’s compassion carries us over the pain and sets us free to be a blessing to others.

Peace is a tranquil interval among the storms of life. When untroubled times lift you above the pain of the past, accept the gift with a prayer of thanks. The presentation of peace is not understood by those who have not faced heartbreak. Nothing is better than laying down to sleep without agony washing over P1090376us.

Remember, your soul is in God’s large hands and he cares.

“I will praise him from the bottom of my heart.” Psalm 35:10 NLT

 

~Karen Prough

 

 

 

 

 

A PATH THROUGH THE WOODS

Vacation to VA and PA in 2013 741

 

A path through the woods meandered along the shaded stream and beckoned to me. My feet followed the unspoken promise of discovery. I failed to understand what tugged at my heart and compelled me to climb the irregular steppingstones toward the hint of sunlight.

An opening in the woods fanned out, inviting the hiker, the innocent passerby, and the curious to pause and catch their breath. I follow its irresistible summons—fueled by my imagination and the warm invitation to return to a former place and time.

I needed harmony and a slower pace to life. Inner peace had gotten lost in everyday duties.

An old homestead waited near the pines. The cabin stood gray, moss-tinted,A Log and Clay 6 and weathered, but the shaded porch drew me toward its promise of comfort. I rounded the corner of the building, and my hand caressed the sun-warmed logs.

 A berry picking place 2

Unripe berries hung from the nearby fence, a pledge of abundance in the future.

 

A pole 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I stooped to pull weeds at the base of the porch, their prolific runners tangled among the “settler’s roses”. Vibrant blooms graced the sturdy canes. As the midday sun warmed the rose petals, their old-time fragrance filled the air, and provided a picturesque background to an old hitching post.

 

A Log and Shoes 2

The porch steps became my sanctuary, and I pondered the presence of the astonishing roses. I wondered whose hands and fingers had planted them. Were they gnarled fingers, twisted and trembling with a lifetime of hard toil? Or were they the delicate and unlined hands of a young bride?

A blossum patch 2

 

I lingered on the wooden steps, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the peace and quiet. But time does not wait, and I soon stood—to bid farewell to a gentler time in the past.

 

 

 

 

My steps took me away from the tranquil moment, but my heart grew lighter. The load I carried on my shoulders fell away. The image of the simple roses and the green stained logs followed me. They lingered in my mind, and reminded me to return more often—to think of the generations who have lived before me and had sought God’s comfort.A blossum alone 1

Ahh, perfect advice. Seek a portion of quiet comfort—a place and time that is special to your needs, as when the scent of roses lifts the burdens of the day.

 

Find time to remember.

 

 

A Log and Clay 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Remember the days of long ago; think about the generations past. Ask your father and he will inform you. Inquire of your elders, and they will tell you.    Deuteronomy 32:7 NLV

Thank you for stopping by and reading this post. I hope it gave you the longing to go back and realize God’s promises are meant for you and those you love. Bits and pieces of the past helped make you the unique person you are today. God can give comfort, which covers and erases the wrongs in our lives. And if we need his forgiveness, we can ask without fear. He can create a new person in us, a person filled with inner peace. Go back, find a place of peace, take your family with you, and bask in God’s love.

The pictures used in this blog are from two different trips to the mountains. The cabin pictures were taken at the Foxfire Museum while vacationing with friends. The rest of the photos are my pictures of roses and exploring I did on my own, during a trip to a writer’s conference. Walking around by yourself and visiting buildings that house the past can bring a different type of connection to a forgotten time period. You have no one to talk to. Only your thoughts give weight to what you see and feel. The hush of a wooded cove, the wind in the trees, and the echo of your steps on a wooden porch cause you to imagine the voices that once filled the air. Life moves on and we can only tread where time leaves its mark. But the moments of peace and reflection can be worth the time spent. We are not the only generation who has walked this earth. So many have gone before us, but we are reminded to remember the days of long ago. God was with those in the past, and he cares for us. He also cares for the future generations … the ones who will walk where we have set our paths.

“We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD.”  Psalm 78:4 NLV

~ Karen

 

© Karen Campbell Prough 2014

Feel free to repost this blog and photos, keeping the copyright notice intact. Thank you.

 

 

FORGETTING, CRYING, AND COMPOSURE

A Log and Clay 8

 

My dad is forgetting pieces of the past.      It makes me want to cry.

Day before yesterday, I went to Mom and Dad’s house to help one of my brothers repair an electrical outlet on the screen porch. When the project was finished, I asked Mom if there any other problem.

 

Reluctantly, she admitted a light switch required some attention. She had purchased a new switch, but when Dad couldn’t recall how to wire it, she put it in a drawer—not wanting to bother anyone. I insisted it was no bother and quickly replaced it. I told her to tell me when things need fixing, because I know Dad can no longer do household repairs.A Dad and picture 1

Whenever I stop in at their house, even after just a couple days, I see differences in my dad. He tries to tell old stories from the past, but he struggles with the details. He can no longer paint pictures and has no desire to do so. And when Dad spends fifteen minutes telling me that he takes the garden hose and waters the boundaries of their huge lot—it is his way of reporting his worth. The sprinklers won’t reach the entire fence line, so he has a very important job to do every day. Mom says he’s just watering weeds, and she’d rather they didn’t grow amongst her plants. But we both know it A Dad and Weeks picture 3doesn’t really matter what he sprinkles with the water hose. It makes him feel needed.

 

I know my mother is weary with the sleepless nights when Dad repeats things—which makes no sense to us—like taking all the covers and sheets off his bed. And then he stands quietly, bewildered in the dark, until Mom puts it all back together. Of course, he doesn’t remember it in the morning or he thinks someone else did it—not him.

It would be wonderful if we could always help one another and fix all the things that go wrong, whether physical or mental.

But we, who are believers in God’s mercy, know that a better time is coming. God will correct what this earthly life dumps on us. Heaven will be wonderful.

But we want it right now. We anticipate the joy of freedom—release from the limits and disappointments we face A Dad's photo of Mom 3during life.

Within Heaven’s glory, all things will be new.

My Dad won’t struggle with his memory. He won’t have that unsure little-boy expression in his blue eyes. Tears will be wiped away the moment we leave this earth and step into the presence of God.

But here on earth people cry when things affect them.

Is it shocking to say … welcome the tears? Even Jesus wept as emotions overwhelmed him. Crying helps wash away some of the pain, like a waterfall spilling over debris-hidden rocks. The rush of the water pushes against the debris and breaks it up so that the beautiful form of the mountain stream is revealed. When a person knows God, the human heart can be restored, composure returns, and courage can blossom. Hope for the future can settle into place when weeping dies away.

“God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can take a new courage, for we can hold onto his promise with confidence. This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain of heaven into God’s inner sanctuary.” Hebrews 6: 18-19 NLT

Thank you for stopping by and reading this blog. I hope it has given you some insight and comfort as daily events knock and demand attention. Please, scroll down and leave your comments. Have you had a good cry lately? Did it help or make things worse?

~Karen

 © Karen Campbell Prough 2013    

Material from this site may be reprinted or copied after receiving the written permission of the author and artist.

WAITING PATIENTLY

WAITING PATIENTLY

Where's that cat? He mauled me and made me very angry!

Where’s that cat? He mauled me and made me very angry!

When huge challenges wash over us, the immediate reaction is to kick, bite, sob, and scratch. And as the waves of attack hit us, we fight harder, lose hope, and try to outrun the situation, but by then—it might be too late. And sometimes when we run, adversity seems to chase us down and double the beating.

Here is an example. A well-fed housecat will pounce on its tiny prey, hold it down with clawed paws, and finish the kill as the terrorized victim bites and launches its futile attempts to help itself. Green eyesBut sometimes, as long as the poor captive remains quiet and still, the cat will just bat it around for a few minutes. He gets bored with the captive’s lack of outward reaction and quite often abandons the destructive game.

And that is when the chance of escape presents itself. The prey opens it eyes, having learned a valuable lesson, and finds a safe haven.

Hold still and wait. So how can that advice compare to what the Lord can do for us, especially when we end up on our backs, staring at bad things in our life? In Psalm 40, we find a statement that can help us face troubles. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” Psalm 40:1-2 KJV

Hold on—wait.

That is what the scripture says? God will hear my cries?

“For innumerable evils have compassed me about; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.A squirrel 3

Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.” Psalm 40: 12-15 KJV

I never noticed those words in the Bible. But I’ve heard them in real life.  Aha, aha! So when the enemy or the situations of our lives seem to be taunting and sneering while wishing evil on us, we need to remember that our God turns toward us and hears our pleas for strength and help.

No loud aha, aha from the adversities of life can hold us down if we rely on God for strength. When we try to fight battles alone, we will suffer more damage. Let God take hold of your life—give all of yourself to him. Remember God is our Redeemer and will fight for us.

a bear 4Now that can make a person want to do a little jig or dance and say, “Aha, aha! I got God on my side.”   🙂

Please, scroll down and leave your response to the words, “Aha, aha!” Thank you for reading this blog.

~Karen

 

 

 

 

© Karen Campbell Prough 2013

 

Material from this site may not be reprinted or copied without the permission of the author. Thank you.

A PATH FOR YOUR FEET

A path for your feet 1A Winding Road 1The path we follow will touch the lives around us.

We don’t journey alone, but it may seem we wander by ourselves. Many people will accompany us at different stages of our life–a younger sibling, a spouse, a child, or a stranger. Our influence spreads like waves in an ocean.

Some trails and trials may lead uphill, around sharp bends, and straight through a dismal swamp. And swamps pull people down. That’s why we must set a straight, level path toward God.

 

 

 

What we do with our lives might be mirrored by others coming in contact with us. We may never realize it–but there are family members and strangers watching us and our reactions to life’s trials.

 

 

 

Walk a crooked path and there might be loved ones who copy each step. Isn’t that frightening to think about? How much better to influence them to live a decent life.

God’s word promises us that there will be consequences related to where our desires take us and who tags along, copying and looking up to us. That means friends and family members might slip and fall if we have chosen a deceitful life. We need to be ready to reach down and lift up the weary, not add to their grief. Perhaps we’ll have to act fast in order to guide friends and family over obstacles blocking their paths. Life doesn’t slow down.

Vacation to VA and PA in 2013 263

 

 

 

 

 

Who led you when you were young and unsure of where life’s path would take you? How did your steps grow solid and sure?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cow in the road 2

 

 

What obstacles appear in your life, make you stumble and vear off course? Perhaps you crashed?

 

 

 

 

“Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.” Hebrews 12:13 NLT

 

A road 1This road on the left is clear and uncluttered, with only a gentle slope and slight curve. It’s easy to stay on the path. But a straight path for our feet might resemble the next picture. It’s reliable, taking us to our destination with the least detours. Anyone following us will have no doubt about the direction our feet have travel.

Confidence in the path will help eliminate falls and injuries. Confidence in God’s guidance does the same and brings everlasting life and peace.

 

A road 11

 

~Karen

Please scroll down and leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Karen Campbell Prough  2013

A REFUGE

A Circle B 1A REFUGE

A week ago, my youngest grandson and I did a long hike at Circle B Bar Reserve on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock. He wanted to walk Marsh Rabbit Run and was very disappointed to realize it was closed at this time of the year—due to adult alligators protecting babies. Connor decided we would walk Alligator Alley Trail instead. I hated to disappoint him. But I told him I wasn’t too keen on it. I think it is listed as about a mile long. With the ninety-degree temperature, I knew it’d be a very warm hike, and I worried about alligators. Alligators don’t read! And a huge mama gator might decide to raise babies somewhere besides Marsh Rabbit Run! But Alligator Alley Trail was open to the public. So I gave in to his insistence and pretended to believe what he said—that he could outrun and beat up any alligator that came along. Never mind that I knew I couldn’t outrun the reptile!

We ended up walking very fast … actually I think it’s called trotting! That’s because more than halfway down the trail a big gator scared some people coming toward us. Water and mossy trees were on both sides of the narrow trail. The gator had hidden in tall bushes along the bank. It plunged sidewaA Circle B 2ys into the water—kaploosh!—when those people paused to take pictures of sweet baby gators! They shrieked and ran in our direction, not caring that they almost knocked eachother into the water. We didn’t stop … determination ruled. We ducked, scooted past the crazy camera people, and flew along the trail, rather than turn back.

My grandson muttered and panted under his breath as he jogged at my side. “I made a bad choice. Memaw, I should’ve listened to you. I just WANT to get back to the parking lot! Oh, God, please help us!” A Circle B 4I’ll admit that I had to smile in satisfaction at his heartfelt confession.

When the trail curved away from the lake and continued under oaks and other foliage, we slowed down and talked about how worried we had felt. At that point, I spotted a turkey hen. We paused in the sandy trail to watch. She cautiously stepped out of the scrub, heading directly for us with two half-grown offspring. She came within five feet of us, edging closer as we stood shock still. She kept tipping her head sideways, peering up at the mossy oaks and dazzling blue sky.

I murmured toA Circle B 7 Connor, “She’s watching the sky for danger. And I bet she knows it’s safer being near us. She only has two babies with her. She’s lost some to predators.” The loud call of an osprey came from the lakeshore, and the voice of a red-shouldered hawk sounded from the woodsy area in front of us.

The hen crossed the dirt path we stood on and entered the tall grasses on the other side. Her youngsters followed, blending with the grass. But within moments, the nearby call of a hawk made the hen hurry back toward us. How did she knowA Circle B 6 we might represent safety? Once she and children were hidden, we moved on—longing for a tall, cold drink. It was a wonderful end to a hurried hike through uneasy territory.

Sometimes in life, we wander off where we really shouldn’t be. Even though we watch things around us and tense our bodies for flight—we aren’t always safe. God created us with the ability to sense danger—much like the mama turkey knew a threat sat high in a tree over their heads.

If we tune in to God’s voice, love, and strength, we can recognize the perils and sins of life and hurry back to the shelter he provides. Life within the circle of his presence is better. He spreads his protective wings over us and calms the quaking of our soul.

His word tells us: “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9 KJV A Circle B 5

We can move back under the safe haven of his word and love. We can call our children and grandchildren to follow us, teaching them that the Lord loves us—wants to provide for their needs. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 KJV

Can you remember a time when you were in trouble and God provided a refuge? Why do people run from God instead of fleeing toward him? Please scroll down and leave your comments. They are very important to me and others who read this A Circle B 8blog.

~Karen

 

© Karen Campbell Prough 2013

Feel free to repost this blog and photos, keeping the copyright notice intact. Thank you.

 

 

IN THE DAY OF MY TROUBLE

IN THE DAY OF MY TROUBLE

A beautiful lake. It is a serene picture and photo worthy. Who wouldn’t want to wade out and enjoy a peaceful swim–a time to just float on your back and let the sun warm your face.

A lake at Circle B 1

Sometimes life is that way–beautiful and worth of every activity we can cram into it. We dive into situations and don’t pay attention to the things that might hurt us or harm our loved ones. We don’t pray for protection. We just keep swimming out beyond the shallow, reflective pools. We believe in ourselves and our abilities to handle any situation.

 

But wait. The picture must be examined and studied. The seemingly innocent bumpy line in the photo isn’t just a dead branch floating on top of the water. It’s a large alligator. Danger lurks. A lake at Circle B 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we travel through life, things can turn ugly, and we immediately need help. Perhaps, we’ve gotten too close to a bad situation and back-paddling isn’t going to work.

There is a verse we can rely on. “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” Psalms 86:7   KJV

 

Thank you for stopping by and reading my latest blog post. God bless. Please scroll down and leave a comment. The alligator that my grandson and I spotted last week was huge, but he was a good ways from shore. Other people stopped to stare at him. He doesn’t show up in the photo, but he was impressive!

~Karen

© Karen Campbell Prough 2013Gator 1

 

 

 

 

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Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives